Dandruff is a condition whereby the skin of the scalp sheds in white scales. Dandruff is not contagious, nor is it a sign of poor hygiene, but it can be a cause of sartorial concern for those who prefer dark-coloured jumpers and coats.
Seborrhoeic dermatitis has a similar presentation to dandruff, but there is generally more redness and the scales are coloured cream to yellow. This condition spreads to the hairline, behind the ears, eyebrows, bridge of the nose, around the nose, genitals and anus. In addition to the remedies for eczema, seborrhoeic dermatitis can respond well to the treatment for dandruff. The same condition is called cradle cap in babies. Dandruff can also look similar to psoriasis, another condition that frequently affects the scalp.
What causes it?
- No-one is quite sure of the cause of dandruff, however, a small fungal/yeast organism is always found at the scene. Pityrosporum ovale, (also known by the more exotic name of malassezia furfur) is either attracted to the inflamed skin or is the cause of the problem. Either way, eliminating Monsieur FurFur can help to get rid of your dandruff problem.
- Over-use of hairsprays, gels, dyes and other grooming products.
- Hormonal imbalance. Puberty is commonly a time when adolescents experience dandruff, acne and unrequited love.
- Stress is nearly always a factor in skin conditions and dandruff is no exception.
- A diet low in essential fatty acids.
- Poor circulation.
What to do
The goal is to eliminate the fungal factor and generally improve skin quality.
- Drink 2 litres of water daily to keep the skin hydrated.
- As Monsieur FurFur is a major factor in terms of dandruff, the best advice is to follow the Candida Diet (see page 00). The basics of this month-long diet are to forgo sugar and yeasted foods.
- If you are not yet prepared to take the candida diet plunge, at the very least, eliminate all added sugar from your diet.
- Increase good oils including cold-pressed olive oil, cold-pressed nut oils, coconut oil and foods with beneficial fatty acids including fish, nuts, seeds and avocadoes.
- Make up a strong tea using dried or fresh thyme. Allow to cool and strain. Use as a rinse after you have finished washing your hair, leaving the tea in the hair without further rinsing.
- Use a shampoo containing the antifungal minerals selenium and zinc. Several antidandruff shampoos incorporate these minerals into their formulation.
- Rinse your hair with a solution of ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar diluted into 1 litre of water. Another good rinse is the juice of one lemon added to 1 litre of warm water. Pour over your head and massage in. If possible, and if weather permits, dry in direct sunshine.
- Once or twice a week, before bed, massage your scalp with a mixture of olive oil with a few drops of antifungal tea-tree oil added. You could also add lavender, rosemary and/or sandalwood oils as they are also antifungal and smell a little sweeter. Cover your pillow with a towel to avoid staining and shampoo out in the morning.
- Give babies with cradle cap a gentle scalp massage with olive, sweet almond or apricot kernel oil with a couple of drops of tea-tree or rosemary oil every day.
- Add 2–3 drops of tea-tree oil to any shampoo you use. Tea-tree oil is antifungal.
- Take some fish oil and evening primrose oil daily (3 g of each).
- Take a probiotic containing acidophilus, bifidus and lactobacillus rhamnosus GG.
- Biotin, vitamin A and zinc are all necessary for healthy skin.
- The tissue salt potassium sulphate (kali. sulph.) is recommended for dry, scaly skin.
- Don’t wear dark-coloured shirts.
- If you live close to the beach, try to swim in the seawater, allowing the sun to dry your hair.
- Inverted postures – where the head is lower than your hips – improves circulation to the head and scalp. Try lying with your legs up the wall, bottom resting on a cushion. For the more adventurous (and strong of neck and back), yoga shoulder and headstands will also do the trick.
- Steer clear of hair products, gel and dyes as they can be irritating to the scalp.
- Don’t lend or borrow hairbrushes or combs.
- Invest in a shower filter that minimises chlorine and other chemicals added to the water.
The following blend of essential oils can be blended with 30 ml of warmed coconut or jojoba oil and massaged into the scalp. Wrap the hair in a warm towel and leave for an hour then wash hair. Repeat weekly. Alternatively, the blend can be made into a neutral shampoo base and/or a neutral conditioner base and used as normal.
- 3 drops of tea-tree oil – antiseptic
- 4 drops of lemongrass oil – antipyretic, bactericide, tonic
- 3 drops of clary sage oil – excellent for oily hair, antiseptic, astringent
- 5 drops of rosemary oil – antiseptic, restorative, stimulating
At a glance
- Avoid sugar and yeast. This will starve the yeast organism involved in dandruff.
- The best option is to go on the Candida Diet for one month (see page 00).
- Dandruff is a skin condition. Improving overall skin quality will help prevent and treat dandruff. Increasing foods high in essential fatty acids (such as fish, nuts, seeds and avocadoes) as well as the good oils (olive oil, nut oils and coconut oil) can be beneficial.
- Add a few drops of tea-tree, lavender or sandalwood oil to your shampoo. After washing, apply a strong thyme tea preparation and don’t rinse out.
- Take some probiotics.
- Biotin, vitamin A and zinc are all recommended for healthy skin.
- Evening primrose oil and fish oil will help improve skin quality and prevent further outbreaks of dandruff.
- Keep your favourite black skivvy for when your dandruff has been treated.
- Swim in seawater, let your locks flow freely and allow the sunshine to dry your hair naturally.
- Avoid using chemicals such as hair dye, gels and other hair products.